What is repeated addition?

Repeated addition
We explain what repeated addition means, how it is taught in school as a foundation of multiplication understanding and techniques that teachers use to help children grasp the concept.

What is repeated addition?

Repeated addition is taught in Year 2, as a basis for helping children understand multiplication.

A teacher may ask a child to work out what 3 lots of 5 are. They may be asked to make 3 groups of 5 counters. Then they may be asked to write the number sentence 5 + 5 + 5 = and then work out the answer, which is 15.

They may also be asked to draw an array to help them work this out. For example, for 3 lots of 5, they would draw:

Children often need to use plenty of visual images like this to really help them with the concept of multiplication. Once they have got the hang of this, they can then move onto writing this into the number sentence:

3 x 5 = 15

They need to repeatedly be made aware that 3 x 5 is '3 lots of 5'.

Repeated addition may be helpful for children as they go up the school and are still not confident with their times tables. For example: a Year 3 child who does not know their 6x table yet, may find it easier to work out 4 x 6 by writing 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 and then slowly adding up the 4 sixes. It may also be helpful with larger numbers, such as 5 x 40. A child may feel comfortable writing 40 + 40 + 40 + 40 + 40 and then adding on the tens on their fingers.

It is important, however, that children move onto learning how to work out number sentences like the above using multiplication, so when working out 5 x 40, they work out 5 x 4 = 20, then multiply this by 10 to make 200.